Who you transfer property title to in Ontario can affect what happens when you sell or die.
Here’s what you need to know about how to transfer property title in Ontario, and how your title is affected, including:
- your ownership rights
- ability to sell a home or land
- division of property when you separate or divorce
- and final bequests in Wills.
What is “Title of the Property”?
You legally own and have the right to occupy and use real property if you are registered on the title. Title can be held individually, with others or by a corporation you own or invest in.
Real property includes dwellings, accessory buildings, and land they stand on. It can include appurtenances, like a right-of-way over a stream that runs through your lot, or farm implements necessary to manage your land.
A furnace, water heater, or anything that is usually part and parcel of a property can belong to you when you transfer title to property in Ontario.
Who Holds the Title to My House?
Who holds title is up to you, but can depend on how you financed a property. A mortgage lender is a title holder until the mortgage is paid. Private investors can be on title too.
Drop into any Axess Law office, or call our virtual real estate lawyer line at 647-479-0118, toll free to 1-877-402-4207, to change your name on a property title in Ontario. We can give you a quote on how much it will cost to transfer a property title (Ontario only).
How to Transfer Property Title in Ontario
When your Axess Law real estate lawyer prepares to transfer property title in Ontario, you will be asked who will actually own it.
- Opt for sole title holder if your property is paid in full and you want to have control of the deed.
- Think about adding investors like a parent or business partner if they expect to have their investment returned upon sale.
- Discuss who will own title with your partner or spouse if you live common law or are married. Adding a spouse to a property title is quick and easy.
- Axess Law can show you how to transfer property title in Ontario to an adult child. Independent legal advice is advised if you are being pressured to transfer title.
- Consider holding property in a partnership or corporation if a tax accountant advises you it could benefit your business interests. (See how adding title insurance when you close real estate transactions protects you from fraud.)
Types of Property Titles in Ontario
Property can be held as freehold, leasehold or life estate.
Freehold Titles in Ontario
Own a detached home with a mortgage and you probably have a freehold title.
Freehold ownership means you and anyone else on title have a right to own, occupy and use a property and the land it’s on. Provided, of course, that you meet your ownership financial obligations — paying property taxes, making mortgage payments, and following design-build bylaw regulations.
Freehold ownership lasts indefinitely, as long as you hold the title. Other than design or bylaw restrictions that affect your property, like how close your house is to your neighbours, you can plan your yard and home any way you please.
Freeholds are the most common and flexible type of property ownership in Ontario.
How Leasehold Properties Differ
By contrast, leaseholds gives you and joint tenants the right to use and occupy land or dwellings you don’t actually own.
When you buy a leasehold condominium or lot, you are paying for exclusive use of a property for the length of your term. The longer the term is, the more valuable your unit is to mortgage lenders or other buyers. See more on can you get a mortgage on a life lease?
For instance, your condominium corporation may have a 99-year lease on the land your building sits on. You purchase your individual unit and responsibility for an equal share of common spaces like parkades. Since you don’t own the land, your ownership rights expire at the end of the term.
Unless the corporation successfully extends the lease, your leasehold is terminated at conclusion of the term. Property owners also can decide to sell or lease to another party within that 99 years. In that case, they must compensate you by buying out your unit or transferring your lease to a new owner.
Ask Axess Law’s condo lawyers (Toronto, Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa) if your title is freehold or leasehold before finalizing an agreement of purchase and sale. It could make a difference to your ability to sell when you want.
Life Estate Ownership
Life estate ownership is rare and gives you legal ownership of a property during your lifetime. It expires when you die. Title then reverts to the original owner or if specified, another party. Thought about gifting your home to family while you’re alive? Read what does inter vivos mean?
Deciding on Title Holders
How you structure titles to property you co-own can determine inheritance rights and division of property if you separate or divorce. Ask us about preserving property rights and how to legally separate in Ontario.
Being Joint Tenants
Being a joint tenant means you and other parties, often a spouse or parents, are co-owners. You all have an equal share in the property. For example, two joint tenants would share 100% ownership.
When a joint tenant passes away, the remaining tenants have a right of survivorship. They take over the deceased “tenant’s” interest and share it equally. Legally married spouses with a right of survivorship can apply to remove a deceased spouse from the title, without going through probate court.
The last surviving joint tenant can bequeath the property to any beneficiary they want.
What Are Tenants in Common
Tenants in common share a property title. You can share 50/50 or have unequal interests. You might, for instance, own 60% and your common law partner or a sibling 40%.
Common law partners have a right of survivorship if you hold a property title as joint tenants. Otherwise, your share is distributed based on your Will or, if you die intestate without a Will, intestacy laws in Ontario (the Succession Law Reform Act).
You can leave your share to anyone you wish including, but not necessarily, your partner.
Why You Need a Real Estate Lawyer
You can check your land title by hiring a real estate lawyer.
Axess Law real estate lawyers in Ottawa or Greater Toronto Area, or remotely via video conference anywhere in Ontario, search property records, and transfer title to a property in Ontario through a local land registry office. We liaise with your mortgage lender to add them to title, and discharge existing mortgages you may have.
Arrange virtual real estate closings anywhere in Ontario.
If issues like construction or financial liens on property arise, our licensed professional lawyers negotiate with a buyer or seller’s lawyer to settle them before your real estate transaction closing date.
Affordable Real Estate Lawyers, Anywhere You Are
Access lawyers for less in Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or anywhere in Ontario when you buy, sell, or transfer property. Axess Law’s flat fee real estate lawyers are affordable, and our rates are all inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. Your final invoice includes no surprises or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it.
Make Online or Phone Appointments
Save time by booking online. We have day or evening appointments and open locations 7 days a week. You can video conference remotely with virtual real estate closings, anywhere you are in Ontario.
Make in person appointments by dialing our 1-647-479-0118 lawyer line (toll free calls to 1-877-402-4207) for our Ottawa or Greater Toronto Area Axess Law locations.
We have onsite parking and easy transit access.